Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's Over...

Wow. The run of "The Spitfire Grill" here in Wasilla, Alaska is over. And what a ride it has been.

Today's closing show was a mind blowing experience. As many of my acting friends probably remember, I have never really cried on stage. When I was Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors", I could get a little misty-eyed on occasion during those crying scenes. Same thing happened here. Our director was of the impression that Percy, my character, would cry when she revealed her secret to Shelby. I thought perhaps not because she would have gone through all that in therapy in the prison. Anyway, I did my best every night to shed some tears.

I think I managed to make it believable, but I never got past the slightly-damp-around-the-eyelashes point.

Never, that is, until tonight.

The bonds this group has formed are amazing. We love hanging out with each other, we help each other, support each other, email each other, call each other, and spend hours on Facebook checking out each others' profiles. (Okay, maybe not hours, but you know what I mean.)

Every show I have ever been in, there was a great relief when the show was over. Yeah, a little bummed because it was fun, but relieved that now life can go back ot normal.

For this cast, there is a big gaping hole in our lives now. If the show were to go on for another month, not one of us would complain or think anything else about it. We'd go on performing and loving every second of our time together.

So emotions ran high to boiling today for our closing show. We were all a little sniffly during our nightly pre-show prayer gathering. I couldn't speak because I would have had to surgically remove the lump in my throat. But then the show started and we all fell into the usual routine.

By the second act, it was like reality was setting in. Not just the reality that the show was over, but the reality of the show itself. It took on new life. When I did my monologue about how "I" killed my stepfather because he got me pregnant and then beat me up and killed the life inside, the silence in the audience was palpable. When I broke down and buried my face in my hands, real tears coursed down my cheeks.

Tammy told me that when she pulled my hair aside to lift my chin during her song and saw the tears rolling, she almost couldn't continue singing. She said she felt the tears dripping off my chin onto her hand and nearly busted out bawling herself.

The next scene was the one where Tammy and Evan have their argument about me and Evan nearly hits her. I get to watch from the corner of my eye, pretending to be asleep in on the rock. The scene rocked the house. It was absolute magic.

When I sang "Shine" after that, even though it was a real struggle to keep my voice steady, I sang it with more emotion and power than ever before. The tears started again near the end of the song, but this time they were tears of happiness.

I had to run to the greenroom to get some tissue before I had an absolute makeup meltdown before the biggest scene of all.

I pull Tommy into the grill, the son that had been living in the woods since deserting the army. Bonnie, who plays Hannah, has always been able to pull off that scene (lovingly nicknamed "the green weenie" scene) with gut wrenching emotion and authenticity. She cries on stage every night without fail.

The latter half of that scene has me blowing up at Bonnie, saying, "I know what it is to lose a child Hannah!" Followed by silence. Then, "I do. And mine can never come back." By this time, the tears had started again. When I walked over to her and pointed to the door saying, "But you're boy is out there," I couldn't contain it anymore. I sobbed as I ran off the stage.

I practically crashed into Evan who immediately held me in his arms as I cried, followed quickly by Garry, who did the same. I was overwhelmed by the emotions running through us all. As Bonnie and Tommy completed the scene, Bonnie sang her song with raw power as Tommy came into the grill and sat at the table with her. When she placed her hands on Tommy's, a bomb could have gone off in that theatre and no one would have noticed.

During the final scene, when the chosen letters are collected, Garry has a line something like, "Well, I guess today's the big day." His voice wobbled as he spoke and we all nearly lost it right then. Patty courageously spoke her lines, though we could see the effort in her face to keep it together.

The last song came together with perfection. Our harmony rang through the room like bells. When we came out for our final bows, though it was not a full house, to me it sounded like the loudest cheers we'd heard all along. We got a standing ovation.

After the show, we gathered up the props, pulled down the trees, and began dismantling the stage. As the knoll disappeared and the tables were removed, I could feel myself sinking into a deep depression. It really is over.

We hung out for a while after finishing the strike. We presented our director with his gifts and laughed about things that happened that night and other things that had happened in other shows. We ate some food and cried some more when it was time to go. I hugged everybody three or four times at least. There were cards, flowers, candy, and lots of other things floating between us.

Now that I am at home, I am reflecting on the last four months. I have no more tears, not because I don't feel like crying, but because my body is dried and numb from the emotional tide that washed over me and left as quickly as it had come. We had our first read through toward the end of October, our first rehearsal at the beginning of November. I remember the hard times we had working through certain scenes, the disagreements, the laughter, the camaraderie, the goofing off backstage. I remember the first time we went out as a group and enjoyed each other's company away from the stage right before Thanksgiving. And how we've gone out once every weekend during the run of the show. While we couldn't all always be there, we were together in spirit.

It is the same now. Though our lives will continue, we'll fill that extra time with other things, we'll enjoy other shows and casts, they will never be equal to the time we spent with each other.

Before this show, I was residing here in Alaska, but still not belonging. I hardly knew anybody and I hardly did anything besides work, eat, and sleep. I found this new family and I feel loved and accepted. I can't express to them how much that means to me. I will always love and cherish my "Spittie Family".

Okay, I better knock this off before I start crying all over the keyboard. This computer has enough problems as it is.

Gods all bless, cast and crew of "the Spitfire Grill".

No comments: